Toontown Online

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Toontown
Toontown-Logo.svg
Toontown Online official logo
Developer(s) Disney Interactive
Schell Games[1]
Frogchildren Studios[2]
Publisher(s) The Walt Disney Company
Distributor(s) The Walt Disney Company
Composer(s) Jamie Christopherson, Cody Westheimer[3]
Engine Panda3D
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X
Release date(s)
  • NA June 2, 2003
Genre(s) MMORPG
Mode(s) Multiplayer
Distribution Digital distribution, CD-rom starting in 2005

Toontown Online was a massively multiplayer online role-playing game, developed by Disney Interactive and published by The Walt Disney Company.[4] The game was released in the United States for Microsoft Windows on June 2, 2003 and for OS X on August 26, 2006. Versions were released later in Japan and the United Kingdom in 2004, France and Germany in 2005, Brazil in 2006, and Southeast Asia in 2007.

Toontown Online's story centered on an ongoing battle between a population of animals known as the Toons and a collection of robots known as the Cogs. The town was meant to be a place for endless fun, however the Cogs continually tried to take it over and take away all fun and games. The player chose and customized a toon from a variety of animals, sizes, and colors and went on to complete Toontasks, play mini-games, and fight the Cogs.

The game was positively received in general, attaining an aggregate score of 82 percent from GameRankings and 81 percent from Metacritic. Critics praised the game for its ability to incorporate aspects pleasurable for the whole family, such as team battling and mini-games; however, some reviewers criticized the game's repetitiveness in the long-run and failure to offer new content for veteran players. The game won several awards from numerous gaming websites and magazines, including Computer Gaming World's MMORPG of the Year. The game was the first MMO ever designed for family gameplay.

The Toontown Online online servers were each shut down or merged over the years and the final server to close was the United States (then merged with the United Kingdom) on September 19, 2013.[5] A month before the closure, Disney released a statement that the company would be "shifting its focus to other online and mobile play experiences, such as Club Penguin and a growing selection of mobile apps."[6] It is unknown whether the original Toontown Online will be revived, although many fan-made revivals exist.

Gameplay[edit]

Toons[edit]

Players could create characters called "Toons". Players were able to customize their Toons in various shapes, colors, clothes and sizes, and most notably, Toon species, consisting of cats, dogs, ducks, mice, pigs, rabbits, bears, horses and monkeys. The player was also able to use a pre-generated name or type a name for their toon.

Each Toon was given a "Laff Meter", which acted as a health meter and a "Gag Pouch", which resembled an inventory. A Toon would run out "Laff", and become sad, typically during battles when Cogs would decrease a player's Laff with attacks. A sad toon would return to the nearest playground to restore their "Laff". The "Gag Pouch" held "Gags", which were ammunition for a Toon to defend them self in a Cog Battle

Playgrounds[edit]

"Playgrounds" were the areas of Toontown that were permanently safe from Cogs. In the playgrounds, Toons could regain lost Laff, receive new Toontasks or turn in completed Toontasks, purchase gags, play trolley games, or go fishing.

There was a playground in each "neighborhood" of Toontown. Each playground featured one of Disney's classic animated characters as a non-player character.

Every neighborhood also had its own set of "Toontasks" to complete. Advancement in the game required completing "Toontasks", missions or tasks assigned by the NPCs. Every Toontask had an award for completion, such as additional Laff points, jellybeans, and a variety of other benefits.

Estates[edit]

Every Toontown account came with a player's estate. An estate is where the Toon's home was located and several other activities could have been performed. Each estate consisted of six houses for each Toon on the player's account. Each house contained features like a phone, a wardrobe, and a jellybean bank. The phone was used to access Clarabelle’s Cattlelog, a catalog. Player's could customize their Toon's appearance and house with objects ordered from the catalog. Wardrobes held clothing and accessories that were not being worn. Jellybean banks held a Toon's jellybeans, or currency, once their "Jellybean Bag" was full. Other elements of estates included Doodles (pets), gardening, fishing, cannons, and mailboxes.

Gags[edit]

"Gags" – silly pranks that are reflective of the slapstick humor found in classic cartoons – were the tools used to destroy the Cogs in Cog battles. There were a total of seven gag tracks: toon-up, trap, lure, sound, throw, squirt, and drop. Each gag track consisted of seven levels of gags. Before the update, each gag track only had six. Players were allowed to have all but one of the gag tracks, two of which (throw and squirt) were given at the start of the game. Each gag track had its own unique properties, powers and shortcomings. The properties of every gag track could have been used with each other in Cog battles to the player’s advantage or disadvantage to encourage teamwork. Gag tracks were obtained by completing a number of Toontasks to train for the selected track.

The primary gag tracks, with which the player started out, were: Throw, Squirt Secondary gag tracks could be obtained in-game by completing Toontasks: Drop, Lure, Toon-Up, Trap, Sound

Non-combat activities[edit]

Toontown offered several non-combat activities for players. These allowed players to earn jellybeans, additional Laff points, and other bonuses to use in the game. These include trolley games (a selection of minigames), fishing, gardening, kart racing, miniature golf and more.

Cogs[edit]

"Cogs" were robots who only cared about business and could not take a joke. They were bent on forever changing Toontown to a place where no fun existed. Cogs came in four types: Bossbots, Lawbots, Cashbots, and Sellbots. They came in varying levels ranging from Level 1 to Level 12, which represented how strong they were, with 1 being the lowest and 12 being the highest. There was also a boss cog for each cog type, each being considered the hardest enemies in the game.

Cog battles[edit]

The game was largely centered around "Cog battles", in which players had to use their gags to destroy the Cogs. Cogs were battled using a timed turn-based combat system with up to four Toons in a battle. During a Cog battle, a player would select any gag among the gag tracks they possessed, call a friend for assistance, or use any special moves they might have. A Cog's health was displayed by the color of the light on the Cog’s chest.

Cog buildings[edit]

"Cog buildings" were a feature in Toontown where one to four players would work together to defeat a series of Cogs in a building. Cog buildings were created when Cogs entered Toon buildings on the streets, subsequently turning them into a Cog building. Cog buildings can also be summoned by toon players if they have received a summon via defeating the Lawbot boss. The type of Cog that took over the building determines the outer look of the building as well as the types of Cogs that would occupy the building. A Sellbot would create a Sellbot building, a Cashbot would create a Cashbot building and so on. If a low-level cog takes over a toon building, there will be very few floors and less powerful cogs. If a high-level cog takes over a toon building, there will be many floors (maximum 5 floors) and more powerful cogs. After defeating each set of Cogs and ascending from floor to floor, the Cogs would become harder. After defeating all the Cogs in the building, the Cog building would convert back to its original state before being taken over. If the players do not conquer a floor successfully, the Cog building would remain at the same place. You will only get your experience points after completing the last floor. Exiting the building before that will not give you any experience points. Generally, higher level buildings could be found in more difficult areas. Special types of Cog Buildings called Field Offices included a mini game and a special reward upon completion. A player could earn a temporary bronze, silver, gold, or spinning star above their head by defeating a set number of Cog buildings.

Cog invasions[edit]

A "Cog Invasion" was when a certain type of cog invaded a whole district in Toontown. An invasion could be either a random occurrence or summoned by a player. During a cog invasion, all cogs, except those in the Sellbot Factory, VP battles, Cashbot coin mint, Cashbot dollar mint, Cashbot bullion mint, CFO battles, Lawbot DA elevators A, B, C and D, CJ battles, Bossbot cog golf front three, Bossbot cog golf middle six, Bossbot back nine and CEO battles, will be of one type. Also, any experience points will be doubled during that time.

Cog HQs[edit]

As players became more experienced in the game, they could play in the four "Cog Headquarters" (Cog HQ) in the game. Each Cog HQ represented a different Cog type, with only Cogs of its type being found in them. Each HQ also had a Cog Boss, who could be fought with up to eight players.

  • Sellbot HQ - The first cog HQ was the Sellbot HQ, primarily featuring the Factory and the Vice President (VP). The Factory served as one way to earn Merits, and as the way to earn Sellbot Cog Suit Parts. Toons would enter with up to parties of four to battle cogs and go through traps. After a toon had enough Merits, they could fight the VP. Toons would enter with up to parties of eight to fight the VP. Upon entering, the trapped shopkeeper will call to the toons and the VP will detect the toons are present and they will be put into battle. After the initial cog battle, the toons have to fight a second cog battle against primarily skelecogs. After the second cog battle, Toons will throw pies into the VP's gears to stun it and then throw pies at the VP to push it back. This process is repeated until the VP falls over the edge. The reward for a victory was being able to summon the shopkeeper for aid in a future cog battle.[7]
  • Cashbot HQ - The second cog HQ was the Cashbot HQ, primarily featuring Mints and the Chief Financial Officer (CFO). The Mints served as one way to earn Cogbucks. Toons would enter with up to parties of four to battle cogs and go through traps. After a toon had enough Cogbucks, they could fight the CFO. Toons would enter with up to parties of eight to fight the CFO. Upon entering, the CFO will detect the toons are present and be put into battle. After the initial cog battle, toons have to use the trap set up by an NPC to fight the CFO. There are four cranes and safes in the battle room. Toons operate the cranes and throw goons at the CFO to make it dizzy, then throw safes at it to do a lot of damage. Throwing a safe when it is not dizzy results in it getting extra protection. The toons who are not on cranes are responsible for disabling the goons so the toons on cranes can throw them. After the CFO takes enough damage, it will attempt to leave the room but will be run over by a train. A victory results in the toons receiving Unite Speedchat phrases, which will give the player a special aid such as restoring gags or Laff, or giving jellybeans.
  • Lawbot HQ - The third cog HQ was the Lawbot HQ, primarily featuring District Attorney Offices (DA Offices) and the Chief Justice (CJ). The DA Offices served as one way to earn Jury Notices. Toons would enter with up to parties of four to battle cogs and do puzzles. After a toon had enough Jury Notices, they could fight the CJ. Toons would enter with up to parties of eight to fight the CJ. Upon entering the CJ will detect the toons are present and be put into battle. After the initial cog battle, toons have to shoot NPCs out of cannons into the jury seats to have a more balanced fight. Next toons would have to win the court case. Toons threw evidence into the scale in attempt to outweigh the cogs' evidence. Cogs simultaneously threw evidence into the other side of the scale. Toons could throw evidence at the cogs to temporarily stun them. If the toons' side of the scale reaches the ground first they win. If the cogs' side does, then the toons lose and go sad to the playground. The reward for victory was a Cog Summons, which would allow players to either summon a Cog, Cog Building or Cog Invasion.
  • Bossbot HQ - The fourth and final cog HQ was the Bossbot HQ, primarily featuring Cog Golf Courses and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO). The Cog Golf Courses served as one way to earn Stock Options. Toons would enter with up to parties of four to battle cogs, play mini games, and go through traps. After a toon had enough Stock Options, they could fight the CEO. Toons would enter with up to parties of eight to fight the CEO. Upon entering, the CEO comes to the kitchen and tells the toons it needs waiters to feed the cogs. The toons are guided by a toon NPC in disguise to first destroy the cog waiters in that room while the NPC sets up a trap. After the initial cog battle, the NPC instructs them to feed the dining cogs a toxic food so they explode. This round is timed and if all cogs are not completely served after the limit, the toons will battle the remaining cogs. This round also is the round that the CEO notices that toons are present, and thereby they stop wearing their cog suits. After the second cog battle, the toons must fight the CEO. Toons could squirt it with seltzer bottles on the tops of the dining tables, or they could use the golf balls to slow it down. A victory results in the toons receiving Pink Slips, which when used would instantly defeat a Cog in battle.

Plot[edit]

Originally in Toontown Online's game installer, a video was played while downloading that featured Scrooge McDuck, a greedy billionaire, visiting Gyro Gearloose, an inventor, in the outskirts of a city known as Toontown. Scrooge was financing Gyro's lab and decided to pay a visit to him, ignoring a warning sign on the door that read "KEEP OUT!" Gyro had been working on a robot and was out of his lab when Scrooge entered, and again ignoring a warning sign that read "DO NOT TOUCH!", Scrooge connected a couple of loose wires on a robot, which sprung the robot to life and as a result it turned evil and took control of Gyro's assembly line. It created the Cogs, a line of robots that had the sole desire to destroy anything fun and run large corporations and businesses.[8] This plot seems to have been rejected as Toontown removed it in updated installers of the game. Toontown did not feature Scrooge McDuck, Gyro Gearloose, or the cog Scrooge brought to life in any way, however the cogs Scrooge created were the cogs used in the game.

The main goal in Toontown was to defeat as many Cogs as possible. The highest player achievement was to reach maximum Laff, 137 Laff points. Toons would do so by completing "ToonTasks" and earning trophies in non-combat activities.

Development[edit]

[edit]

Toontown Online featured two types of accounts: free accounts, and paid member accounts. Originally, free accounts were only allowed three days of unrestricted gameplay before being forced to pay for a membership. This was changed to allow free players to play for an unlimited time with certain restrictions on the game. These restrictions originally meant that Toons were bound to the starting neighborhood (Toontown Central) and its buildings and streets, as well as Goofy Speedway where the racing events took place. Toons were also only allowed to complete Toontasks up until the final one that would allow them access to their third gag track. This was changed to allow free players to roam in the streets of all of the neighborhoods and to complete the final Toontask for the third gag track. However, free players could still only enter buildings in Toontown Central and were not allowed to enter the Cogs HQ’s or Cog buildings outside of Toontown Central. Paid members were allowed complete and unrestricted gameplay for the duration of their subscription. Options included monthly, semi-annually, and annually subscriptions. This unlocked access to things such as house furniture, golfing, and access to Cog HQs and buildings outside of Toontown Central.

CD-ROM[edit]

Platform Publishing, a subsidiary company of Sony Online Entertainment that publishes games for third-party developers, announced on August 25, 2005 it had acquired rights to publish a CD version of Toontown Online for the PC and bring the game to online game consoles.[9][10][11][12] Toontown Online became available on CD for the PC on October 3, 2005.[13] This allowed players to play the game without downloading it onto their storage devices. This version came in a box set with two months of subscription, a poster, a game manual, and an in-game bonus.[14] Toontown Online chose to create a CD that could be purchased in stores due to customer insecurity when downloading and buying things online that they could not physically hold.[15]

Online safety features[edit]

Toontown Online was marketed towards and developed for children. Therefore, a chat restriction was placed on the game. Players could only chat using "SpeedChat", which was a list of pre-approved phrases set by Disney that the player could select. It included general English phrases, in-game strategy phrases, and, occasionally, seasonal phrases. Players could purchase more SpeedChat phrases using jellybeans. "SpeedChat Plus" and "True Friends" were introduced some time after the game's release, which had to be enabled using a parental account if the player was under 13 years of age. SpeedChat Plus allowed the player to type their own messages against a word filter developed by Disney; if a word was not allowed, it was replaced with an onomatopoeia of that player's Toon's species. True Friends allowed players to chat with a less-restrictive filter with certain friends whom have shared a "True Friend code" with each other. Toontown had some flaws with the chatting system as toons who didn't know each other in real life could become true friends and thereby share personal information with each other. A common method to doing so was one toon would say speed chat phrases and the second toon would note the first letter of each speed chat phrase. If the toon had to convey a number they would jump that number of times.[16]

Closure[edit]

On August 20, 2013, Disney announced that after 10 years of operation, Disney's Toontown Online was being shut down, permanently.[6][17] Subsequently, every player was given membership for the remaining time of the game. Seasonal and holiday celebrations and special in-game events took place in the time remaining. Recurring paid memberships were automatically cancelled, memberships could no longer be purchased and accounts could no longer be created.[17] The website was also updated with a closing FAQ.[18]

Fans desperately signed petitions in attempt to keep the game open,[19][20] however Disney has never responded to any of them. The game remained open for a month after the announcement, finally closing on the set date, September 19, 2013, at 11:59 A.M. Pacific Standard Time.[5] After the game's closure, Toontown's website was updated with a new FAQ to help with billing support and inform users about the game's closure.[5] Petitions are continuously signed by fans regardless of the closure.[19][20] Toontown's site, toontown.go.com, now redirects to Disney's main site, disney.com.

In response to the closure, a group of former Toontown Online players have created Toontown Rewritten, which they describe as "a fan-made revival of Disney's Toontown Online, created using publicly available downloads and information made freely available to the general public."[21][22] Toontown Rewritten was released in Open Beta on September 19, 2014, exactly one year after Toontown Online's closure.[23]

ToonFest[edit]

Not to be confused with Walt Disney's Hometown Toonfest held annually in Marceline, Missouri.[24]

Disney organized two real-life gatherings for Toontown fans called ToonFest. ToonFest included themed activities and games, trivia and costume contests, previews of upcoming features for the game, and developer Q&A panels.[25][26] The first gathering, ToonFest 2006, was held at the Walt Disney Studios complex in Burbank, California,[27][28] while ToonFest 2007 was held at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.[29][30] No future ToonFests were ever announced and it is unknown if they ever will be.

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 82%[31]
Metacritic 81%[32]
Review scores
Publication Score
AllGame 3.5/5 stars[33]
GameZone 9/10[34]
PC Format 75%[35]
PC Gamer UK 83%[citation needed]
PC Gamer US 60%[36]
Computer Games Magazine 100%[37]
Game industry News 4.5/5 stars[38]
GamerDad 4.5/5 stars[39]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Award Category Result Ref
2003 Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences Annual Interactive Achievement Award
PC Massively Multiplayer/Persistent
World Game of the Year Award
Games Nominated [40]
Children's Software Revue All Star Software Award Games Won [41][42]
Computer Gaming World MMORPG Game of the Year Online Games Won [43]
Game industry News Family Game of the Year Games Won [38]
Parents' Choice Foundation Silver Honor Online Video Games Won [44]
Web Marketing Association WebAward Outstanding Website Game Site Won [45]
The Webby Awards Webby Award Games Nominated [46]
Webby Award People's Voice Youth Won [47][48]
2004 Web Marketing Association WebAward Outstanding Website Game Site Won [49]
2005 Web Marketing Association WebAward Outstanding Website Game Site Won [50]
The Webby Awards Webby Award Games Nominated [51]
"Webby Worthy Selection" Games Won [citation needed]
WiredKids Safe Gaming Award Computer Games Won [52][53]
2006 Web Marketing Association WebAward Game Site Standard of Excellence Game Site Won [54]
The Webby Awards Webby Award Games Nominated [55]
2007 iParenting Media Awards Greatest Products Award Winner Video Games Won [citation needed]
Web Marketing Association WebAward Outstanding Website Game Site Won [56]
2009 Parent Tested Parent Approved Seal of Approval Website Won [57]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]